Retirees are waiting longer to claim their Social Security benefits, reports Mark Miller of Reuters, with the number of early claimants dropping dramatically in recent years: “As recently as 2004, half of all men and 55 percent of women filed at age 62. But in 2016, just 32 percent of men and 37 percent of women were filing at 62. The share of men filing at their FRA [full retirement age] jumped from 11.5 percent in 2004 to 17.9 percent in 2016. For women it rose from 7.5 percent to 12.6 percent.”
Americans are becoming better informed about the financial disadvantages of claiming Social Security early, Miller says.
But the most significant factors in the trend may be improving health in the elderly population and the sharp drop in the number of workers with defined-benefit pensions. Workers with pensions tend to retire as soon as they are eligible to receive benefits, and that may be well before the full retirement age, which is 66 years and 4 months for those turning 62 in 2018. Workers with 401(k) plans, on the other hand, are motivated to keep working and saving, assuming they are healthy enough to do so, increasing the size of their monthly Social Security checks once they do finally retire.